Express & Star

Review: Robinson Crusoe, Birmingham Hippodrome

It has glitz in bucketloads and jokes aplenty but, best of all, it has Brian Conley, fresh from the jungle and back where he belongs, on a stage.


The star was suffering from a cold but showed no signs of the illness that cut short his time on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here.

He may have lost out on the chance to become King Of The Jungle but in Birmingham, where he is doing his sixth panto, he is already showbiz royalty.

Conley is undoubtedly the lynchpin of the show, cracking up the cast as well as the audience, but there is much else in this panto to admire.

Local boy Andrew Ryan is impressive as the dame, Mrs Crusoe, and certainly earns his fee with at least 20 costume changes, including an eye-boggling bikini body suit

Lesley Joseph plays the fairy godmother, The Enchantress, providing one of the biggest laughs of the night when she realises, as does Brian Conley, that she has come on stage without a vital prop but both deftly adlib their way out of trouble to the delight of the audience.

It's all there: the corny jokes, the drenching of the first five rows of the audience,and lots of whiz, bank, wallop. There is a flying car and a giant sea monster both of which emerge into the auditorium, hovering just five or six feet above the people in the stalls. The costumes and set are a riot of colour.

However the stars of the show are the audience. Last night a woman called Helen was dragged on stage to perform this year's must-have panto accessory, the Gangnam Style dance routine.

Five children were also brought on to amuse during a scene change, one of them refusing point blank to talk, another serious-faced child never cracking a smile, both as funny in their own way as the others who performed to order.

This is a child-friendly show but full of double entendre, a panto to please everyone, and a visual spectacle that is crammed with festive cheer.

Marion Brennan

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